How to write an obituary | DrumhellerMail
Last updateFri, 14 Jun 2024 6pm

How to write an obituary

1.        Start by announcing who the person is, the date they died, the age they were when they died and how they died in one sentence. Be short and concise. "Joe Smith died on December 1, 2010, at the age of 99, after a courageous battle with cancer."

2.        Write a short biographical piece about the person's life. This should include where and when the person was born, where they lived throughout their life, notable awards and times in their life, important hobbies, where they went to school. If the deceased grew up in Drumheller or area, list the name of the school attended so that former classmates will be informed. Other personal achievements will vary, but usually include any military service, awards won, and jobs held.

3.        Include who the person is survived by. Include, in this order, immediate family members (spouse and children or parents and siblings step-children) and secondary family members (aunts, uncles, grandchildren, close cousins).  "Joe is survived by .."  If non-relations want to be included, its best to get a family member's permission first.

4.        Note where and when important ceremonies will take place, such as memorial services, rosary, grave-side burials, viewing, etc. You may want to indicate it is a public service or a private service. This should be mindful of the religious preference of the deceased and what type of service will be performed.  

5.        Tell people where they can make donations in remembrance of the person who has died. This is a very common practice in the United States and should always be noted, to avoid an influx of calls to the bereaved family. 


  • When noting a person's education, take into consideration where the obituary will be placed and how old the person was when they died. For younger people, indicate the elementary, junior, and high school they attended as well as college. Older people can have just high school and college. 
  • Some people are very close to their pets. Include this in their "survived by" section at the end. This should be tasteful and only included if the person is known for their love of their pet.
  • Most funeral homes will have a form available for family members to complete. The funeral home will provide that obituary information to the media. Include all family information for the funeral home such as where survivors currently reside. 
  • Some families are offering an extended family member's email address for old acquaintances to email condolences to.  You may want to add this to your obituary if it's appropriate.



  • Use discretion when announcing the reason of death. If it is too gruesome, such as impalement in a car crash, simply mention that death occurred due to a traffic accident.
  • Be tactful. An obituary is a positive piece that celebrates the life of the deceased and informs the community of his passing. Just make sure that all the information is correct or expect to have many angry relatives that certainly don't need more aggravation at this time.